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Renting a home

A guide for tenants

consumer.vic.gov.au
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

The app for renters


Learn your rights and responsibilities
as a renter, understand condition
reports, contact your agent and more
all from your smartphone.

Disclaimer, copyright and About this guide


publisher information Renting a home: A guide for tenants is
Because this publication avoids the use of the summary approved by the Director of
legal language, information about the law may Consumer Affairs Victoria of the rights and
have been expressed in general statements. duties of a landlord and tenant under a
This guide should not be relied upon as a tenancy agreement.
substitute for the Residential Tenancies Act Under section 66 of the Residential Tenancies
1997 or professional legal advice. Act 1997 (the Act) landlords and agents must
Authorised and published give the tenant this guide on or before the day
by the Victorian Government, they move in.
1 Treasury Place, Melbourne Consumer Affairs Victoria can take tenants,
May 2016 landlords and agents to the Magistrates Court
ISBN: 978 1 921079 68 9 for not obeying certain obligations under the
Act. In some circumstances, the Magistrates
Court may impose a fine.

Unless indicated otherwise, this work is Additional copies


made available under the terms of the Additional copies of this guide are available
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia from the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit To order more than five copies, download an
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au order form from the website.
It is a condition of this Creative Commons
Information about renting is available
Attribution 3.0 Licence that you must give
in 20 languages at consumer.vic.gov.au/
credit to the original author who is the State
languages.
of Victoria.
If you would like to receive this publication
in an accessible format, please telephone
Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.

2
Contents

Essentials for tenants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Gas appliance safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


At the beginning of a tenancy . . . . . . . . 4 Smoke alarms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
During a tenancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Swimming pools and spas . . . . . . . . . . . 24
At the end of a tenancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Entry to the premises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
RentRight app . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Rent increases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Part 1: Beginning a tenancy . . . . . . . . . . 6 Part 3: Ending a tenancy. . . . . . . . . . . . 27


At the start of your tenancy . . . . . . . . . . 7 Ending a tenancy agreement . . . . . . . 28
Tenancy agreements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 When your landlord wants
Signing your rental agreement . . . . . . . 7 to end the tenancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Tenancy databases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 When you want to end
Guarantees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 the tenancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Rent in advance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Calculating minimum
notice periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
Deposits and charges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Challenging a Notice to Vacate . . . . 35
The bond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Getting evicted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
The Condition Report. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Reporting safety issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Part 4: Leaving a tenancy
Water meter readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 after giving or receiving notice . . . . . 37
Utility connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Preparing to leave the property . . . . . 38
Smoke alarms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Agreeing on the return
of the bond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Part 2: During a tenancy . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Final meter readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40
Paying rent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Belongings left behind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40
Rent receipts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Providing a forwarding address . . . . . 41
Communicating with your
landlord or agent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Part 5: Solving tenancy problems . . . 42
Utilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 What you can do to solve
Sustainable living tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 a tenancy problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Looking after the property . . . . . . . . . . 18 Reaching an agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Your privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Consumer Affairs Victoria . . . . . . . . . . . 43
If you do not meet your Tenants Union of Victoria (TUV) . . . . .44
responsibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Housing for the Aged Action
If a landlord or agent does Group (HAAG) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
not meet their responsibilities . . . . . . . 19 Victorian Civil and Administrative
Sharing a property . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Tribunal (VCAT) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Change of landlord or tenant . . . . . . . 20 Useful contacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46
Repairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

3
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Essentials for tenants

Do not sign anything unless Official notices you give


you understand what it your landlord or agent must
means. include all the required
details. Use the forms on the
Never sign a blank form for
Consumer Affairs Victoria
example, a bond form even
website or the RentRight
if it looks official.
app to ensure you provide
the right information to your
landlord or agent.

At the beginning of a tenancy During a tenancy


read and sign your Residential communicate with your landlord
Tenancy Agreement form or agent and keep them informed
keep a copy of anything you sign of any problems that may arise
seek advice if you have a tenancy make sure you pay your rent
issue or question on time
check that your new home is keep all records such as rent
completely safe, and raise any receipts
issues with your landlord or agent keep your property reasonably
complete a Condition Report if clean; this will minimise any
you have paid a bond you can problems that may occur during
add to or edit a Condition Report a landlord or agent inspection
completed by a landlord or agent get written permission from your
> see The Condition Report on landlord if you wish to sub-let or
page 12 for details assign the tenancy agreement to
consider taking photos of the someone else
property before or on the day let your landlord or agent know of
you move in any repairs that need to be done
complete and sign the Bond > see Repairs on page 21 for
Lodgement form and keep details
the receipt > see The bond put all requests to your landlord
on page 11 for details or agent in writing. Forms are
contact the utility companies of available from Consumer Affairs
your choice to ensure these are Victoria.
connected by the time you move in.

4
Essentials for tenants

At the end of a tenancy RentRight app


give adequate notice when RentRight is a free mobile app
planning to leave; the notice period for renters, available for iPhone
will depend on your reason for and Android users. RentRight has
leaving > see When you want to information and tools to help you
end the tenancy on page 32 for manage your tenancy.
details
You can use RentRight to:
pay any outstanding rent
check your responsibilities for correctly contact your landlord
separately metered utilities or agent
clean the property adapt and send sample emails on
consider taking photos after you a range of issues, including repairs
move your furniture out to show and ending a lease
the condition of the property access information to help resolve
take all your belongings with you problems you may encounter
> see Belongings left behind on calculate how much a weeks rent
page 40 for details is per month, six months and yearly
keep the Condition Report in calculate your up-front costs when
case of a dispute moving into a new rental.
try to agree with your landlord or
To send your landlord or agent notices
agent on the return of the bond
via the RentRight app (for example,
> see Agreeing on the return
about repairs, damages, utilities,
of the bond on page 38 for
moving out or breaches of duty) you
details
must get their written agreement to
if you have paid a bond, complete
accept electronic communication. You
the Bond Claim form and return it
will be prompted to do this when you
to the Residential Tenancies Bond
first use the app.
Authority (RTBA). The form must
be signed by you and your landlord Private renters in Victoria can use all
or agent parts of this app. Some of its functions
leave a forwarding address can also apply to public housing
with your landlord or agent tenants; for further advice, contact
or Australia Post. your local housing office.
For more information and to download
the app, visit consumer.vic.gov.au/
rentright

5
PART 1:
Beginning a tenancy

6
Part 1: Beginning a tenancy

At the start of your tenancy


Carefully read and Pay the bond if required.
understand the tenancy
Pay rent in advance
agreement before you sign it.
if required.
Get the landlord or agents
Fill out and keep a copy
contact details.
of the Condition Report.

Tenancy agreements Most people who sign a tenancy


agreement pay rent to a landlord
A tenancy agreement, also called a
or agent working for the landlord.
lease, can be in writing or verbal. If
a tenancy agreement is in writing
it must be in the proper legal Note:
form. Tenancy agreement forms If you or your landlord do
are available from the Consumer not give notice to end a
Affairs Victoria website. fixed-term agreement,
you will automatically roll over
There are two types of tenancy
to a periodic tenancy agreement
agreements:
at the end of the fixed term.
1. A fixed-term agreement is for
an initial set period.
For more information about
2. A periodic agreement has no
ending a tenancy, see Ending a
end date.
tenancy agreement on page 28.
A tenancy agreement is a legal
contract between you and your Signing your rental agreement
landlord.
Before you sign the tenancy
It outlines: agreement:
the rent you need to pay and your landlord or agent must
how to pay it give you a copy of the unsigned
the length and type of tenancy document
the amount of bond required read it carefully and make sure
other conditions and rules. you understand it.

7
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Extra terms and conditions may be Tenants with children


included if you and your landlord or
In most circumstances, a landlord
agent agree, but these must comply
or agent cannot legally refuse to rent
with the Act.
a property to tenants with children.
Once the tenancy agreement has This is discrimination and is against
been signed, your landlord or agent the law.
must give you a copy within 14 days.
For information about discrimination
Your landlord or agent must give you: in accommodation, contact the
Victorian Equal Opportunity and
their full name and address Human Rights Commission > see
an emergency telephone number Victorian Equal Opportunity and
and (in the case of agents) a fax Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC)
number to be used for urgent on page 47 for contact details.
repairs.
If an agent (rather than the landlord) Pets
manages your property, they must
The Residential Tenancies Act 1997
also provide in writing:
does not make any mention of pets.
details of whether or not the agent
However, it may be possible to have
can authorise urgent repairs, and
a clause in a tenancy agreement that
if the agent can authorise urgent bans pets.
repairs, the maximum amount they
can authorise. If you have a pet or intend to get one,
you should let your landlord or agent
The landlord or agent should also give know as it may be in breach of the
you a copy of the owners corporation terms of your tenancy agreement.
rules, if any apply to the property.
This is likely if you are renting an If you keep a pet that has been
apartment, a townhouse or a unit. causing damage or nuisance, or
The rules may cover day-to-day interfering with the reasonable peace
issues such as parking, pets and noise. and comfort of neighbours, you can be
issued with a Breach of Duty notice
Your landlord or agent can be fined if: by the landlord or agent.
they do not provide these details If your pet has been found to be
on or before the first day of your endangering the safety of neighbours,
occupancy you may be given an immediate
they do not advise you of any Notice to Vacate by the landlord
changes to their contact details or agent.
within seven days.

8
Part 1: Beginning a tenancy

Tenancy databases how you can check, change or


remove the listing (that is, by
Tenancy databases, also referred
contacting the database operator
to as blacklists or bad tenant
or the person who listed you).
databases, contain information about
the renting history of certain tenants. The landlord or agent can face
significantpenalties for not advising
A landlord or agent can pay a
youabout databases.
membership fee to access a database
when choosing a tenant for a property.
They can use the database to: Listing a tenant on a database

search for and screen prospective You can only be listed on a


tenants databaseif:
list previous tenants. you were named on the tenancy
agreement
Notifying prospective tenants the agreement has ended
aboutdatabases you breached the agreement and
because of the breach, you owe an
When you apply to rent a property,
amount more than the bond, or the
and the landlord or agent are using
Victorian Civil and Administrative
a database to help decide whether a
Tribunal (VCAT) has made a
tenancy agreement should be entered
possession order.
into, they must:
This applies if you breached your
advise you if they subscribe to
tenancy agreement by:
adatabase
provide you with the contact details maliciously damaging property
ofthe database operator. endangering neighbours safety
not paying rent
The details must be in writing.
failing to comply with a VCAT order
If the landlord or agent finds personal using the property for illegal
details of you on a database, they purposes
must advise you in writing, within sub-letting the property without
seven days, of: thelandlord or agents consent.
the name of the database and the Before listing a tenant on a database,
person who listed the information the landlord or agent (or the database
the personal information held in the operator) must notify the tenant in
database writing, and provide them with 14 days
to object and make submissions.

9
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Guarantees
A guarantee is an agreement where a
person, other than you, agrees to pay
the landlord for any losses incurred if
you breach any part of your tenancy
agreement or the Residential
Tenancies Act 1997.
Your landlord can only ask for a
guarantee as well as a bond when:
the rent is more than $350 a
week, or
you are renting your landlords
principal place of residence until
they resume living there. This
condition must be stated in the
lease.
If there is a guarantee but no bond,
the guarantee can only be enforced
if the amount is no more than one
months rent.

Rent in advance
Updating or removing listings
If you pay rent weekly, your landlord
Listings more than three years old or agent cannot ask for more than
must be removed from a database. 14 days rent at the beginning of a
If the landlord or agent become aware tenancy. In any other case, provided
that information listed is inaccurate the rent is $350 a week or less, the
or out-of-date, they must notify the landlord or agent cannot ask for more
database operator within seven days. than one months rent in advance.
The operator must then change or
remove the listing within 14 days. Deposits and charges
You can apply to VCAT to change or A landlord or agent can ask you
remove inaccurate or out-of-date for a holding deposit. This must
listings. be refunded when the tenancy
agreement is signed.

10
Part 1: Beginning a tenancy

If no tenancy agreement is made If your landlord or agent receives a


within 14 days, the money must be bond or a part payment of a bond,
refunded by the next business day. they must give you a completed and
signed official Bond Lodgement form
A landlord, agent or other third party
to sign.
cannot charge for:
showing you a property
Bond Lodgement forms
issuing a rent payment card
can be generated on the
establishing or using direct debit RTBA Online website at
facilities rentalbonds.vic.gov.au.
making, continuing or renewing a
tenancy agreement (this may also
be referred to as a premium, bonus, Payment must be made by cheque
commission or key money). or money order to the Residential
Tenancies Bond Authority. The
postal details are under Residential
The bond Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA)
Most landlords or agents will ask on page 46 and on the Bond
you to pay a bond. A bond acts as a Lodgement form. The RTBA will send
security that you will meet the terms a receipt to you and your landlord or
of your tenancy agreement. If you agent. Contact the RTBA if you have
fail to keep the property clean, cause not received a receipt 15 business
damage or are in rent arrears, your days after paying your bond.
landlord or agent may claim some or
all of the bond when the tenancy ends. Bonds from the Director
If your rent is $350 a week or less, of Housing (DoH)
the bond cannot be more than one If you are on a low income and can
calendar months rent. Your landlord afford to rent privately, but are
or agent cannot increase the bond struggling to pay the up-front costs,
during your tenancy. you may be eligible for a bond loan
from the DoH.
Looking after the bond A DoH Bond Lodgement form must
Your bond money is held by the be used for any part of the bond
Residential Tenancies Bond Authority provided by the DoH. The DoH will
(RTBA). issue the form with the bond payment
when a bond loan is approved.

11
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

In cases where you have paid the The Condition Report


bond while waiting for an approved
If you have paid a bond, your landlord
DoH bond loan, you may apply to the
or agent must prepare a Condition
RTBA to get your bond money back.
Report, which records the propertys
To find out if you are eligible for general condition, including fittings
a DoH bond loan, contact the and fixtures before you occupy the
DoH through the Department rented premises. Even if you have not
of Health and Human Services paid a bond, it is still a good idea to
> see Department of Health get a Condition Report.
and Human Services on
Consumer Affairs Victoria has a
page 46 for contact details.
Condition Report form to help you
rate the condition of your new home.
Dishonoured bond payments
The Condition Report can be used
If a bond payment to the RTBA is
as evidence if there is a dispute about
dishonoured, the landlord or agent
who should pay for cleaning, damage,
can organise to collect the money and
or replacement of missing items,
re-lodge the bond, give you a 14-day
particularly at the end of a tenancy.
Notice to Vacate for non-payment of
a bond, or waive the bond. If possible, take photos of the premises
before you move in to further show
Difference between bond and rent their condition.
Your bond and rent are separate Your landlord or agent must provide
payments. You may be fined for you with two copies of the signed
treating any part of the bond as rent. Condition Report before you move in.
You must continue to pay rent until Review and, if necessary, add your
you vacate even if: comments to the Condition Report.
your landlord has refused to Return the report to your landlord or
do repairs agent within three business days of
moving in. All parties should keep their
you have given your landlord
copy of the Condition Report until the
notice of your intention to vacate
end of the tenancy.
your landlord has given you a
Notice to Vacate.

12
Part 1: Beginning a tenancy

Your landlord or agent may claim


some or all of the bond for cleaning, Reporting safety
damage, or replacement of missing issues
items at the end of your tenancy. If You should inform
the Condition Report stated that the your landlord or agent of any
work was required at the start of the defects that pose a threat to
tenancy, or the items were not listed, safety so these can be fixed
it can help you prove the bond should by an expert. If you report a
be returned to you. safety risk and it is not fixed,
you can take further action
Completing the Condition Report > See Repairs on page 21.
It is important to note on the If the problem is serious enough
Condition Report if you disagree to make the premises unsafe
with any points. to live in, notify your landlord
or agent immediately. If the
Check that everything attached to a
problem cannot be fixed, you
ceiling, wall or a door (for example,
may be able to end your tenancy
light fittings, mantelpieces, hooks and
agreement.
handles) is fixed securely and unlikely
to injure anyone. See the Consumer Affairs
Victoria website for further
Take photographs, particularly of any details.
features of the premises you have
made a note of in the condition report.

13
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Water meter readings Some agents will offer a connection


service via an external company.
If the property has a separate meter,
You do not have to tick the box on
your landlord or agent:
the tenancy application form for
can arrange for you to be billed for this service; if you do, you are only
water usage and sewage disposal consenting to having the connection
must give your contact details to company call you.
the water provider, who will read
the meter and commence billing.
Smoke alarms
It is a good idea to confirm the details The landlord is
in a letter to the water provider and responsible for fitting
keep a copy. smoke alarms. For more
information, see Smoke alarms
Utility connections on page 24.
When starting a tenancy, you should:
contact the utility providers of your
choice to ensure gas and electricity
are connected
arrange for bills to be in your name
leave enough time to arrange any
connections prior to moving in.

14
PART 2:
During a tenancy

15
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Paying rent
Pay your rent on time.
Get a rent receipt.

You are responsible for paying your keep a record of the payment for
rent on time. You must continue 12 months. If you request a copy
paying it until the tenancy ends. within that time, they must provide
you with a copy of the record within
five business days.
Remember:
If any rental payments The landlord can be fined if the
are late or not made, you rules on providing rent receipts
may be in breach of your are not followed.
tenancy agreement. If the rent
A rent receipt must include:
is 14 days or more behind, your
landlord or agent can give you your landlord or agents signature
a 14-day Notice to Vacate. your name
property address
payment date
Rent receipts what period the payment was for
You are entitled to receive a receipt how much was paid
for each rent payment. Your landlord a statement that it is a rent receipt.
or agent who receives the rent must:
give you a receipt immediately
if you pay in person
give you a receipt within five
business days if you do not pay
in person but request a receipt

16
Part 2: During a tenancy

Utilities
Communicating
Water expenses
with your landlord
or agent If the property has its own meter,
you must pay for:
You and your landlord or agent
may need to contact each water consumption, and
other about issues such as rent sewage disposal, unless your
increases, sub-letting, damage landlord has agreed to pay these
to the premises, or ending the charges. This agreement must be in
tenancy. writing and signed by the landlord.
You should always communicate The landlord must pay all other
or confirm important matters charges related to water supply,
in writing. Your written although different rules may apply
communications should be when a tank is the main source.
clear, signed, and include all the
necessary details. Keep copies
Other utilities
for future reference. Consumer
Affairs Victoria has forms Your landlord must pay all installation
available for a range of scenarios. and initial connection costs for
electricity, gas and oil supply. If there
See consumer.vic.gov.au/renting
is a separate meter, you must pay for
for details.
all other charges for these amenities,
You can communicate with your unless otherwise agreed. If there is no
landlord or agent via email, if separate meter, your landlord must pay.
they agree. It is a good idea to
get this agreement in writing. Where bottled gas is provided, your
Note that you must have your landlord pays for the supply or hire of
landlord or agents written bottles, and you pay for the gas. Your
agreement if you want to email landlord must reimburse you:
them official notices (for example, if you have paid the costs of any
about repairs, damages, utilities, utilities for which your landlord
moving out or breaches of duty). is liable
You can use the email templates for any rates or taxes paid to a
in Consumer Affairs Victorias public authority that are not part
RentRight app to correctly of consumption charges for the
contact your landlord or agent service.
via email, if they agree. For more
Read your tenancy agreement
information and to download the
carefully and make sure you clearly
app, visit consumer.vic.gov.au/
understand who is responsible for
rentright
paying utilities.

17
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Tenants in housing owned or Your landlord or agent must:


subsidised by the government may
give you a copy of this guide on
be charged separately for expenses
or before the day you move in
such as heating and laundry.
ensure the rented premises are
vacant and in a reasonably clean
Sustainable condition on the day you move in
living tips keep the premises in good repair
Environment Victoria ensure any replacement water
publishes The Victorian Green appliance, fitting or fixture meets
Renters Guide: Sustainable energy efficiency standards
Living Tips for Renters. give you a key as soon as possible
after changing any lock
You can download a copy
let you have peace and quiet
from environmentvictoria.
in the premises
org.au/rentersguide or call
not carry out a general inspection
(03) 9341 8100.
of the premises until after the
end of the first three months of
continuous occupation. This does
Looking after the property not apply if the landlord is selling
Tenants, landlords and agents have the property, and wishes to inspect
responsibilities during a tenancy. it for valuation purposes
follow the rules about proper notice
As a tenant you must: periods for ending a tenancy > see
keep the premises reasonably clean When your landlord wants to end
the tenancy on page 29 for
not cause damage
details.
notify your landlord or agent of any
damage as soon as possible Your landlord or agent must give
ensure you and your visitors respect you a copy of this guide on or
your neighbours rights to privacy,
before the day you move in.
peace and comfort
ensure the property is not used for
any illegal purpose
obtain consent from the landlord
or agent before installing any
fixtures, or making any alterations/
renovations.

18
Part 2: During a tenancy

Your privacy Sharing a property


Landlords or agents who collect There are generally two types of
personal information from you may arrangement when tenants are
be bound by privacy laws, placing sharing a property.
restrictions on how this information is
passed on to third parties. If you think Co-tenancy
your personal information is being
misused, contact the Office of the In a co-tenancy, every tenant signs
Australian Information Commissioner the tenancy agreement and all names
on 1300 363 992 or visit oaic.gov.au. appear on the bond lodgment form.
Usually, the bond amount is divided
equally among all tenants. However,
If you do not meet your each tenant is responsible for the full
responsibilities amount of the bond, not just their share.
Your agent or landlord can issue you
with a Breach of Duty notice if you Remember:
do not meet certain responsibilities. In a co-tenancy, any one
The notice will ask you to rectify the individual can be held
problem. If the problem continues, responsible for the
your agent or landlord could ask the actions of all the tenants if, for
Victorian Civil and Administrative example, rent is owing or the
Tribunal (VCAT) to make an order. property has been damaged.

If a landlord or agent does not


meet their responsibilities Sub-letting
You can also send your landlord In the case of sub-letting, one or more
or agent a Breach of Duty notice existing tenants will rent out part or
under certain circumstances if you all of the property to other people. The
believe they are not meeting their tenants who signed the initial tenancy
responsibilities. agreement are the head tenants and
those tenants renting from them are
Before you issue a called sub-tenants.
Breach of Duty notice, A tenant must not sub-let without the
it is recommended you landlords written approval. A landlord
contact Consumer Affairs must give permission, unless there is
Victoria or a tenancy advocacy a good reason to refuse. It is illegal
service for more information. to charge a fee for giving permission.
If you sub-let, you will become the

19
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

landlord to your tenant and must take Bond


on those responsibilities.
If your landlord gives permission for
If you believe your landlord is refusing you to sub-let and you take a bond
to allow you to sub-let without a from a sub-tenant, you must lodge the
good reason, you can apply to VCAT bond with the Residential Tenancies
for a ruling. If you are living in public Bond Authority (RTBA) within 10
housing, your landlord is generally business days. The RTBA will consider
allowed to refuse permission for you you as a landlord for this purpose.
to sub-let.
Change of landlord or tenant
Remember: If a new landlord or agent takes over
You must get your the property:
landlords written the previous and new landlords/
permission before agents must complete and sign an
sub-letting any part of the Agent/Landlord Transfer form and
property. It is a good idea to send it to the RTBA within five days
seek advice when considering of the changeover, and
sub-letting and before finalising they must give you a copy of
any agreement. this form.
If a new tenant moves in under
the existing tenancy:
you must get your landlords written
permission to assign the tenancy
agreement to someone else
the landlord or agent and the
incoming, outgoing and any
continuing tenant must complete
and sign a Tenant Transfer form
to change ownership of the bond
they should not pay the bond
directly to any other tenant without
signing a Tenant Transfer form
you must send the form to the RTBA
within five days of the new tenant
moving in.
A fine can be imposed for not sending
a transfer form to the RTBA.

20
Part 2: During a tenancy

However, if the matter has gone to


If you are living in a VCAT, you can apply for the rent to be
rooming house, please paid into VCATs Rent Special Account
refer to Rooming houses: until the issue is resolved.
A guide for residents and
operators.
Urgent repairs
Copies of this guide
If you request urgent repairs the
are available from
landlord or agent must respond
consumer.vic.gov.au
immediately.
Urgent repairs are:
Repairs a burst water service
Document repair requests a blocked or broken toilet system
in writing. a serious roof leak
a gas leak
Keep copies of all letters,
a dangerous electrical fault
forms and reports for future
flooding or serious flood damage
reference.
serious storm or fire damage
Use forms available from a failure or breakdown of any
the Consumer Affairs essential service or appliance
Victoria website or the provided by your landlord or agent
RentRight smartphone app for hot water, water, cooking,
see consumer.vic.gov.au/ heating, or laundering
rentright. failure or breakdown of the gas,
electricity, or water supply
Repairs are your landlords any fault or damage in the
responsibility. However, if you caused premises that makes the premises
the damage, the landlord or agent can unsafe or insecure
ask you to arrange to repair it or pay an appliance, fitting or fixture that
for repairs they undertake. is not working properly and causes
a substantial amount of water to
Tenants, landlords and agents must
be wasted
follow set procedures when dealing
with urgent and non-urgent repairs. a serious fault in a lift or staircase.
You must continue to pay rent even
while waiting for repairs.

21
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Non-urgent repairs
Steps you can take
to have an urgent Write to your landlord or
item repaired agent telling them what
Contact your landlord or agent needs to be repaired.
using the emergency telephone You may use Consumer
number they provided at the Affairs Victorias Notice to
start of your tenancy. The
Landlord of Rented Premises
landlord or agent must respond
form.
without delay. If a repair is
urgent and you are not getting
If you give your landlord or agent a list
a prompt response from your
of repairs that need to be done, they
landlord or agent, you can
have 14 days to carry them out.
authorise the repair for up
to $1,800. If they do not carry out the repairs,
You can then give your landlord contact Consumer Affairs Victoria.
or agent a notice asking that Consumer Affairs Victoria may be able
they pay you back for the cost of to resolve the matter by talking to the
the urgent repairs. Your landlord landlord or agent.
or agent has 14 days to pay from If the matter cannot be resolved, you
the date they receive the notice. can send a copy of the written repairs
If: notice to Consumer Affairs Victoria
and ask for a Consumer Affairs
the landlord or agent does not
Victoria inspector to visit the property.
complete the urgent repairs
The inspector can report on whether
and they are going to cost
the landlord has breached their duty
more than $1,800, or
to maintain the premises in good
you cannot afford to pay for repair.
them, or
the landlord refuses to If the repairs still have not been
reimburse you if you have done after you receive the inspection
paid for the repairs report, you then have 60 days to apply
to VCAT for a repair order.
you can apply to VCAT, which will
hear the application within two You must continue to pay rent even
business days. VCAT can order if your landlord or agent has not
the landlord or agent to arrange arranged for the repairs. However,
the repairs. if the matter has gone to VCAT, you
may apply for the rent to be paid into
VCATs Rent Special Account until the
issue is resolved.

22
Part 2: During a tenancy

Gas appliance safety the landlord/agent or owner must


reimburse you.
Landlords/agents or
owners responsibilities
Tenants responsibilities
Landlords/agents or owners must
Tenants also have responsibilities,
ensure that rented premises are
including to immediately report any
maintained in good repair. This
gas appliance fault to the landlord/
includes ensuring that all gas
agent or owner. If you are a tenant,
appliances provided by the landlord/
make sure you are satisfied that any
agent or owner, such as heaters and
gas appliance is operating safely. If
stoves, are safe to use and properly
you are concerned about the safety
maintained. All installation and
of a gas heater, contact your landlord/
maintenance of a gas fitting or fixture
agent or owner and ask for it to be
should be done by a licensed gas
tested. Before you sign a lease, you
fitter. Failing to ensure gas appliances
may consider requesting a condition/
are safe to use or properly maintained
clause be added requiring the
can result in death, serious injury
landlord/agent or owner to undertake
or considerable property damage.
to have any gas appliances checked
Energy Safe Victoria recommends
and certified safe every two years.
gas heaters and water heaters are
serviced every two years. To minimise gas safety risks:
use appliances appropriately and
Gas leak danger
in accordance with the instructions
Professional servicing of gas
report any fault or malfunction
appliances is necessary because
to your landlord/agent or owner
carbon monoxide leaks are hard to
immediately stop using any
detect. The poisonous gas is tasteless,
appliance that is obviously faulty
colourless and odourless. Symptoms
of carbon monoxide poisoning allow reasonable access for gas
include tiredness, shortness of breath, safety checks
headaches, nausea, vomiting and do not illegally install, remove or
dizziness. Fixing a gas leak qualifies as tamper with any gas appliance.
an urgent repair and a landlord/agent The landlord/agent or owner and the
or owner must respond immediately tenant should work together to ensure
to the tenants request for repairs. that a safety check is done at agreed
If a landlord/agent or owner is not intervals which Energy Safe Victoria
contactable or does not respond recommends should be every two
immediately, you can authorise an years. For more advice on general gas
urgent repair of up to $1,800 and safety in the home, visit esv.vic.gov.au.

23
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Smoke alarms The Victorian Building Authority


recommends checking that:
Smoke alarms must be installed in
all Victorian homes, units, flats and self-closing and self-latching
townhouses. Landlords/agents or devices on pool and spa doors
owners are responsible for fitting and gates work properly
smoke alarms in rented properties. gates are not misused by being
Hard-wired smoke alarms with a propped open
battery back-up must be installed there are no items that could be
in all buildings constructed after used to climb over the barrier within
1 August 1997, as well as all rooming 900mm of the gate or fence; for
houses. Buildings constructed before example, tree branches, pool pumps
then can have a battery-powered or pot plants
smoke alarm. fences (especially boundary timber
paling fences) are in good repair
The Metropolitan Fire Brigade
and cannot be climbed.
recommends all smoke alarms be:
Tenants or residents should:
tested regularly
replaced after 10 years. ensure all gates to the swimming
pool or spa area are closed at all
Tenants or residents should: times, except when entering or
not deactivate a smoke alarm leaving the area
or interfere with its operation in notify the landlord/agent or owner
any way of any faults with pool or spa
notify the landlord/agent or owner fences, doors or gates.
if a smoke alarm is faulty or not in If there is a fault with the fence or
working order. barrier (including a gate or door)
which causes it to be unsafe, it is an
Swimming pools and spas urgent repair and the landlord/agent
or owner must arrange for it to be
If you are renting a property that has
fixed immediately.
a pool or outdoor spa, check that the
fence or safety barrier is secure for For more information about pool
you and others who live at or visit safety requirements, visit the
the property (especially children). Victorian Building Authority website
vba.vic.gov.au
All doors and gates that provide
access to a pool or spa must have
self-closing and self-latching devices.

24
Part 2: During a tenancy

Entry to the premises Your landlord or agent can enter


the premises if you are not home,
What your landlord or agent can do: providing that suitable written
Your landlord or agent may enter notification has been given. However,
your property at a date and time it is recommended that you are at
that you have both agreed on. home during a landlord or agent visit.
However, this agreement cannot
The inspection notice must be hand
be made more than seven days
delivered between 8am and 6pm or
before the entry.
posted to you.
In any other case, your landlord or
agent has the right to enter with
What landlords or agents
24 hours written notice to you, in
cannot do:
order to:
carry out duties specified Whether entering at an agreed time,
in your tenancy agreement, or with 24-hours notice, the landlord
Residential Tenancies Act 1997 or agent does not have the right to:
or any other Act enter in an unreasonable way
value the property stay any longer than necessary to
show prospective buyers do what is required, unless it is with
or financial lenders through your permission.
the premises
show prospective tenants
through the premises Note:
(within 14 days of the lease You do not have to agree
termination date) to a verbal request from
your landlord or agent to
verify a reasonable belief that
enter the premises.
you have not met your duties
as a tenant You may request your landlord
make one general inspection or agent provide written notice
in any six-month period, but not and a reason for entering the
within the first three months of property.
the tenancy.
The landlord or agent can only enter
between 8am and 6pm, and not on
public holidays. If you are home,
you must let the landlord or agent
in, providing the appropriate notice
has been given or agreement reached
not more than seven days before.

25
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Rent increases
What to do if you think
What you should know: your rent increase is
If your tenancy agreement is for a too high
fixed term, your landlord or agent You can request a rent
cannot increase the rent before assessment from Consumer
the end date, unless the agreement Affairs Victoria if you think:
states otherwise. You can negotiate
a rent increase is too high
this with your landlord or agent.
your rent under the tenancy
Your landlord or agent cannot
agreement is excessive given
increase the rent more than once
that some or any of the
in any six-month period.
services, facilities or other
Your landlord or agent must give items have been withdrawn
you at least 60 days notice of any or reduced.
rent increase using the Notice of
Rent Increase to Tenant/s of Rented A request for a rental
Premises form. assessment for excessive rent
increase must be made in writing
If your rent was $350 or less per
within 30 days of receiving
week when you first moved into the
a Notice of Rent Increase to
property, your landlord or agent
Tenant/s of Rented Premises.
cannot increase the bond during
any subsequent agreement, even You have 30 days from receiving
if the rent becomes more than the rent assessment report to
$350 per week. apply to VCAT for a hearing.
VCAT may set a maximum rent
if the report is accepted.

26
PART 3:
Ending a tenancy

27
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Ending a tenancy agreement


A tenancy agreement can only
be ended in accordance with the Remember:
Residential Tenancies Act 1997. Leaving and stopping
rent payments without
giving the appropriate
There are three main ways
notice is a breach of the contract
to end a tenancy:
between you and your landlord.
1. All the parties can agree to end The Victorian Civil and
the tenancy. Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
2. Your landlord or agent gives you can award compensation to
a valid Notice to Vacate. landlords for money lost because
3. You give valid notice to your of such a breach.
landlord or agent that you intend
to vacate.
If your landlord wants
Even if a tenancy has a fixed end date, to end the tenancy:
notice must be given to end it.
They must give you a Notice
If you want to end the tenancy: to Vacate in the correct
Advise your landlord or agent written form.
in writing if you want to leave The notice must be sent to
the property. you at the rented premises
Make sure you give the by registered post, or given
appropriate notice > see to you in person.
Reasons and minimum
notice periods on page 33
for details.
Ensure that your notice is
delivered within a suitable
time.

28
Part 3: Ending a tenancy

Agreeing to end a tenancy early Either party can apply to VCAT to


end a tenancy early on the basis of
You and your landlord can agree
hardship > see Real Estate Institute
to end the tenancy early.
of Victoria (REIV) on page 46 for
It is important to put the decision
contact details.
in writing.
This written notice should include
any agreed costs, terms and When your landlord wants
conditions, and the date the to end the tenancy
tenancy is to end. They must complete and give you
If you have a fixed-term agreement a valid Notice to Vacate form.
but need to end your lease early, The notice must be sent to you at
you should give written notice the rented premises by registered
as soon as possible that you post, or given to you in person.
are leaving. Breaking a tenancy
agreement may require you to pay
compensation to your landlord.

29
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Reasons and minimum notice periods


Under certain conditions, a landlord can legally end a fixed term or periodic
tenancy agreement.
Table 1 (below) shows the reasons a landlord may end a tenancy before the end
of the tenancy agreement.

Table 1: Reasons your landlord can ask you to vacate before the tenancy
agreement ends, and minimum notice required
Reason your landlord can ask you to vacate before the tenancy Minimum notice
agreement ends required 1
Damage is maliciously caused to the premises or common Immediate notice
areas by you or your visitor.
You or your visitor put neighbours in danger. Immediate notice
If the premises are: Immediate notice
totally destroyed
partly destroyed and unsafe
unfit to live in.
You owe at least 14 days rent. 14 days
You have breached a VCAT compliance order or 14 days
compensation order.
You have already been given two Breach of Duty notices 14 days
and the same breach occurs.
The premises are being used for illegal purposes. 14 days
Other tenants sub-let from you without the landlords consent. 14 days
You did not pay the bond as agreed. 14 days
You have a child living at the premises when the agreement 14 days
does not allow children.
The landlord is a government housing authority and you misled 14 days
the authority so you could be accepted as a tenant.
You have engaged in a drug-related activity in public housing. 14 days
1 Allow extra time when mailing. Check Calculating minimum notice periods on page 34 to
calculate the extra time correctly.

30
Part 3: Ending a tenancy

Table 2 (below) shows the reasons a landlord can end a tenancy, but not before
the end of the tenancy agreement.

Table 2: Reasons your landlord can ask you to vacate, but not before the
tenancy agreement ends, and minimum notice required
Reason your landlord can ask you to vacate, but not before the Minimum notice
tenancy agreement ends required1
The tenancy agreement has a fixed term or set end date and states 14 days
that you have rented the landlords own home and the landlord will
occupy it at the end of the tenancy agreement.
The landlord is a government housing authority and you have 30 days
unreasonably refused to seek or accept an offer of alternative
accommodation.
Planned reconstruction, repairs or renovations (for which all 60 days2
necessary permits have been obtained) cannot be properly carried
out unless you vacate.
The premises are to be demolished and all necessary permits have 60 days2
been obtained.
The landlord wants to do something else with the premises (for 60 days2
example, use them for a business).
The landlord, a member of the landlords immediate family (including 60 days2
parents and parents-in-law) or a dependant (who normally lives with
the landlord) will be moving in.
The premises are to be sold or offered for sale with vacant possession 60 days2
immediately after the termination date of the tenancy agreement.
The premises have been sold and all sale conditions have been 60 days2
satisfied.
A government authority owns the premises and needs them for public 60 days2
purposes.
It is the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement of fewer than six 60 days
months.
It is the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement of six months or more. 90 days
The landlord is a government housing authority and no longer meets 90 days2
its eligibility criteria.
No specified reason, but not just because you have been exercising 120 days2
your rights or saying you will do so.
1 Allow extra time when mailing. Check Calculating minimum notice periods on page 34 to
calculate the extra time correctly.
2 If your landlord gives you a Notice to Vacate for any reason marked with note 2, you can
respond by giving your own 14-day Notice to Vacate. However, if you are on a fixed-term lease
or agreement, the end date on your notice cannot be before the end of the fixed term.

31
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

When you want to end the tenancy, you are advised to use the
Notice to Landlord of Rented Premises form available from
Consumer Affairs Victoria.
When you want to leaving it for your landlord or
end the tenancy agent at their residence or business
with a person apparently over the
You are advised to use the Notice to
age of 16 and apparently living or
Landlord of Rented Premises form
employed there
available from Consumer Affairs
giving it to an authorised officer
Victoria.
of the corporation employed at its
You must give your landlord or agent registered office, if your landlord is
the correct amount of written notice. a corporation
posting it to your landlord or
Remember: agent at their residence or business
In cases of severe or, if your landlord or agent is
hardship, you can apply a corporation, posting it to the
directly to VCAT to corporations registered Victorian
reduce the fixed-term tenancy. address.
It is a good idea to use registered post
so there is proof of when and where
Your notice of intention to
the notice was sent.
vacate must:
be in writing Ending an agreement
be signed by you or your before you move in
representative
You can end an agreement before
give a reason, if applicable
you move into the property if the
> see Table 3: Reasons you can give
property is:
your landlord for vacating,
and minimum notice required not vacant
on page 33 not in good repair
give the date you plan to leave, totally destroyed
taking into account the amount of partly destroyed and unsafe
time required under notice periods.
unfit for human habitation
Delivering a notice of intention not legally available as a residence
to vacate can be done by: not available for occupation.
personally delivering it to your
landlord or agent

32
Part 3: Ending a tenancy

Reasons and minimum notice periods


The minimum amount of time required for giving notice depends on the reason,
as outlined in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Reasons you can give your landlord for vacating,


and minimum notice required
Reason you can give your landlord for vacating Minimum notice required1
If the premises are: Immediate notice
totally destroyed
partly destroyed and unsafe
unfit to live in.
The landlord has breached a VCAT compliance 14 days
order or compensation order.
You have already given two Breach of Duty notices 14 days
to the landlord and the breach has re-occurred.
You require temporary crisis accommodation. 14 days, but if it is a fixed-term tenancy
agreement, the end date on the notice
cannot be before the end date of the
agreement. If you provide a date earlier
than this, you are breaking the tenancy
agreement and may be subject to fees.
You require special or personal care. 14 days, but if it is a fixed-term tenancy
Special or personal care means assistance with: agreement, the end date on the notice
bathing, showering or personal hygiene cannot be before the end date of the
agreement. If you provide a date earlier
toileting
than this, you are breaking the tenancy
dressing or undressing agreement and may be subject to fees.
meals
physical help with mobility problems
supervision or assistance
supervision in dispensing medicine, or
substantial emotional support in a health
or residential service.
You are offered public housing. 14 days, but if it is a fixed-term tenancy
agreement, the end date on the notice
cannot be before the end date of the
agreement. If you provide a date earlier
than this, you are breaking the tenancy
agreement and may be subject to fees.
Any other reason. 28 days, but if it is a fixed-term tenancy
agreement, the end date on the notice
cannot be before the end date of the
agreement. If you provide a date earlier
than this, you are breaking the tenancy
agreement and may be subject to fees.
1 Allow extra time when mailing. Check Calculating minimum notice periods on page 34 to
calculate the extra time correctly.

33
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Calculating minimum Tenants and landlords who post


notice periods notices, such as Notices of rent
increase and Notices to vacate,
When sending a notice, the minimum
should factor in longer mail delivery
notice period starts the day after the
times which reflect the chosen
notice is:
delivery speed. Extra days should
given by hand, or also be added for any public holidays
calculated to have been given that fall within the postal period.
when sent by ordinary post or For more about Australia Posts
registered post. mail delivery options and times,
To calculate the earliest termination visit auspost.com.au.
date, you must allow a total time that To help calculate the total minimum
includes both: days to allow, depending on the notice
delivery of the notice (delivery is period required and the method of
the day it is given by hand, or the postal delivery, visit the VCAT website
day it would be received by post), www.vcat.vic.gov.au/disputes/
and rt-notices.
the required minimum notice.
Example
The date the notice takes effect is
the day after the minimum notice George is a tenant who wants to
period ends. move out on the day his fixed-term
tenancy ends. He must give his
From 4 January 2016, Australia Post landlord 28 days notice. He refers
introduced three delivery speeds for to the VCAT website to find out how
ordinary post express, priority and many days to allow for delivery of the
regular. Priority and regular speeds notice. Table 4 (below) shows the total
also apply for registered post, which number of days George would need
must be used if a landlord is sending to allow, depending on the delivery
a notice to vacate to a tenant. method used and the day of the week
the notice is posted or given by hand.

Table 4: Total number of days to allow if the minimum notice period is 28 days
Posted Posted Posted
Method of delivery Sunday or Monday Tuesday to Friday Saturday
Regular post 34 36 35
Priority post 32 34 33
Given by hand 30 30 30

34
Part 3: Ending a tenancy

Challenging a Notice to Vacate Asking for more time to vacate


You have the right to challenge a If you have been served with a Notice
Notice to Vacate. You may argue to Vacate but are finding it difficult to
against the notice if it is not given move out of the property on time, you
properly or if you disagree with the may try to negotiate a solution with
reason given. your landlord.

You can also challenge a Notice to You can also contact Consumer
Vacate given for no specified reason Affairs Victoria or a tenancy advocacy
or to end a fixed-term tenancy, if you service for more information about
believe it was given because you were your options.
exercising your legal rights or saying
you would do so. Getting evicted
You must apply to VCAT to challenge If you have been given the appropriate
a notice within specific timeframes notice to vacate your rental property,
depending on the reason and the and have not left by the end of the
minimum time period of the notice. due date, the landlord can seek an
You must apply to VCAT within: Order for Possession from VCAT.

60 days of receiving a 120-day This order may instruct you to vacate.


nospecified reason notice It may also allow the landlord to
obtain a Warrant for Possession,
28 days of receiving a 90-day notice
which may then be executed by
to end a fixed-term agreement
thepolice to evict you.
21 days of receiving a 60-day end
of fixed-term notice
30 days of receiving any other
60day notice.

35
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

You should also organise to collect


Remember: your belongings > see Belongings left
A landlord or agent behind on page 40 for details.
cannot personally use
force to remove you from
the property. Only the police Consumer Affairs Victoria,
may carry out an eviction, and the Tenants Union of
only when they are acting on a Victoria and other
Warrant for Possession. organisations can
provide support, advocacy and
advice to people who are facing
VCAT will set a hearing after your eviction.
notice to vacate has expired. You must See page 44 for more
go to the hearing if you wish to dispute information about Consumer
the landlords reason for wanting to Affairs Victorias Tenancy
evict you. Advice and Advocacy Program,
If you are likely to be evicted, try to and the Tenants Union of
make arrangements so that you will Victoria (TUV).
have somewhere to stay.

36
PART 4:
Leaving a tenancy after
giving or receiving notice

37
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Preparing to leave the property


Discuss the return of the Take your belongings
bond with your landlord with you.
or agent.
Provide a forwarding
Finalise any outstanding address.
rent and bills.

Agreeing on the return


of the bond Remember:
Never sign a Bond Claim
At the end of a tenancy you and your form that does not show
landlord or agent should: the amount you are to
attempt to agree on how the receive. It is against the law for
bond money is to be divided. a landlord or agent to request or
For example, there may be some obtain your signature if the form
property damage that needs repair does not show how the bond
set out the agreed division in amount is to be refunded
a Bond Claim form, signed by and distributed.
both parties, which is sent to
the Residential Tenancies Bond A completed Bond Claim form can
Authority (RTBA) be submitted to the RTBA at any time
use a new Bond Claim form if any after the end of the tenancy. There is
changes need to be made, as the no time limit for submitting it.
RTBA will not accept a form that
When the RTBA receives a correctly
has been altered in any way.
completed Bond Claim form, it
Your landlord may claim part of the repays the bond directly into the
bond. When any part of the bond is nominated bank account.
to be paid to the landlord, the form
If you have not provided valid bank
cannot be signed more than seven
account details, but have provided
days before the end of the tenancy.
a forwarding address, the RTBA will
send a cheque.

38
Part 4: Leaving a tenancy after giving or receiving notice

If you share a tenancy, the RTBA Can a landlord or agent


will not pay out part of the bond if a claimthebond?
tenant leaves. Adjustments of bond
Your landlord or agent may make a
contributions between outgoing
claim on part or all of the bond for:
and incoming tenants are a private
matter between the tenants, but the damage caused by you or your
RTBA must be told about any change visitors
of tenants during a tenancy on the cleaning expenses
RTBATenant Transfer form. abandonment of the premises
you leaving your landlord to pay
Bonds from the Director bills you should have paid
ofHousing(DoH) loss of the landlords goods
If the DoH has provided your bond, unpaid rent.
you cannot agree to the release of any
The landlord must accept fair wear
of the bond to your landlord. The RTBA
andtear.
will pay out the bond to the DoH at the
end of the tenancy, once it receives If there is disagreement about the
the completed Bond Claim form division of the bond, your landlord
signed by the landlord only. must apply to VCAT to have the
matter resolved within 10 business
If a Bond Claim form is not lodged,
days of you vacating the premises.
the DoH will not know the tenancy
has ended and the bond amount will You may also apply to VCAT on the
remain registered as an outstanding same grounds at any time.
debt against the tenant.
VCAT does not charge an application
If there is any claim by the landlord on fee when the landlord is claiming
a bond provided by the DoH, the claim an amount equal to or less than the
must be heard by the Victorian Civil bond. A fee does apply when the
and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). compensation claim is more than
thebond.

39
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Final meter readings Personal documents


If you have separate meters for gas, Personal documents include:
water or electricity you should let the
official documents
providers know in advance you will be
photographs
moving out. If you do not do this, you
may be charged for utilities in the next correspondence
billing period. still and video cameras
computer hard drives
Belongings left behind external storage devices, CDs,
DVDs etc.
If you leave any personal documents
any other documents a person
or goods behind, you should make
would reasonably be expected
arrangements to collect them. If these
to keep.
arrangements cannot be made, your
landlord or agent may request an When personal documents are left
inspection from Consumer Affairs behind, your landlord or agent must:
Victoria. The inspector will advise
take reasonable care of the
the landlord or agent what to do
documents for at least 90 days
with the goods.
let you reclaim the documents
Your landlord or agent cannot refuse after you pay back any money the
to give back any of your belongings, landlord or agent had to spend to
even if you owe rent. If you suffer a remove and store them.
loss because your landlord or agent
did not comply with the legislation in If a landlord or agent complies
withholding your goods, you can apply with their legal requirements to
to VCAT for compensation. take reasonable care of personal
documents for the required period
If your landlord or agent has complied of time and you do not claim the
with the legislation and suffered a documents, your landlord or agent
loss through the cost of storing and can dispose of them. Note that this
auctioning your goods, they can also does not remove offences under other
apply to VCAT to be compensated. legislation to destroy documents. Your
landlord or agent can then apply to
VCAT to be compensated for the cost
of looking after and removing the
documents.

40
Part 4: Leaving a tenancy after giving or receiving notice

Disposable goods
Your landlord or agent can
dispose of:
perishable foods
dangerous goods
goods of no monetary value.
All other goods must be stored unless
removal, notification, storage and
auction costs would be more than
auction proceeds.
Landlords and agents can assess
whether, under the Residential
Tenancies Act, the goods can be
disposed of or must be stored.
Alternatively, they can ask Consumer
Affairs Victoria to inspect the goods
and make a formal assessment.

Goods that must be stored Providing a forwarding address


If you leave goods behind that are It is a good idea to leave a forwarding
not allowed to be disposed of, your address and phone number when
landlord must: leaving a tenancy. The new address
and telephone number should be
store the goods for 28 days
given to the landlord or agent, VCAT
notify you within seven days that (if an application has been made) and
the goods can be collected the RTBA on the Bond Claim form.
let you reclaim the goods after
you have paid the costs to cover You can also get your mail forwarded
any reasonable expenses incurred to your new address by completing
by them. a form at any Australia Post office.
There may be a fee for this service.

41
PART 5:
Solving tenancy problems

42
Part 5: Solving tenancy problems

What you can do to solve a tenancy problem


Try to solve the problem by Contact the Victorian
communicating directly with Civil and Administrative
your agent or landlord. Tribunal (VCAT).
Seek advice from Consumer
Affairs Victoria.

Reaching an agreement We can also help solve tenancy


disputes.
You and your landlord or agent should
attempt to solve any problems and Consumer Affairs Victoria can
reach an agreement. If you do, put attempt to resolve a dispute but
your agreement in writing and have cannot compel a landlord or agent
it signed by both parties. to resolve an issue.
If you cannot reach agreement, visit You can also ask for one of Consumer
the Consumer Affairs Victoria website Affairs Victorias inspectors to do a
for information about renting rights rental assessment if you think your
and responsibilities, giving notice rent increase is too high or if there has
about issues, and tips on resolving been a reduction in services.
disputes.

Note:
Consumer Affairs Victoria For more information
Consumer Affairs Victoria can give on what you can do
advice on a range of tenancy issues to solve a tenancy
including: problem, visit the Consumer
Affairs Victoria website.
rental bonds
lease agreements
repairs and maintenance
rent increases
rights and obligations of
landlords and tenants
notice periods
goods left behind
evictions.

43
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Tenants Union of Victoria (TUV)


Tenancy Advice and
The TUV provides advice, assistance
Advocacy Program
and advocacy for tenants of private
Consumer Affairs Victoria and public residential properties.
also runs the Tenancy Advice
and Advocacy Program. The The TUV can help you:
program supports vulnerable fill in forms or agreements
or disadvantaged people with relating to your tenancy
a private rental matter, in
with advice on problems such
areas such as eviction, rent
as repairs and rent increases
arrears, compensation claims
by negotiating and advocating
and disputes that need to go
on your behalf with your landlord
to VCAT.
or agent
Call 1300 55 81 81 to find by assisting or representing
out more. you at the Victorian Civil and
Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
> see Real Estate Institute
of Victoria (REIV) on page 46
for full contact details.

Housing for the Aged Action


Group (HAAG)
HAAG provides free and confidential
advice to older people who live in
rental accommodation.
HAAG gives information on housing
options for older people who need
to find better, more affordable and
secure accommodation.

44
Part 5: Solving tenancy problems

People can also get advice


and support if they are having
difficulties such as:
keeping up with their rent
living in housing that is in poor
condition and needs repair
problems with their tenancy
agreements > see Housing for the
Aged Action Group (HAAG) on
page 47 for full contact details.

Victorian Civil and


Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
VCAT hears a range of disputes,
including those between tenants VCAT will also consider urgent
and landlords. hearings in cases of extreme hardship.
You must include a letter outlining the
Application forms are available from reasons why a matter is urgent when
VCAT and Consumer Affairs Victoria. you lodge your application.
Once you have applied for your case
to be heard, VCAT will inform you
Interpreters at VCAT
of the date, time and place of the
hearing. Hearings take place in the VCAT can provide interpreters for the
city, suburbs and country Victoria. parties directly involved in a dispute.
If you need an interpreter, VCAT
It is important to be prepared for must be told at the time of making the
a hearing. The VCAT member will application. VCAT will then arrange
hear and consider all the evidence for an interpreter free of charge.
presented from both sides. This might Friends or relatives are generally not
include listening to evidence from allowed to interpret for a tenant or
witnesses or looking at photographs landlord > see Real Estate Institute
and other documents brought to the of Victoria (REIV) on page 46 for
hearing by you or the other party. full contact details.
VCATs decisions are usually made
on the day of the hearing; they must Full contact details for
be obeyed by both parties in the same all of these, and other
way as a court order. useful organisations, are
on the following pages.

45
Renting a home: a guide for tenants

Useful contacts

Residential Tenancies Bond Victorian Civil and Administrative


Authority (RTBA) Tribunal (VCAT)
The RTBA holds all residential tenancy VCAT operates like a court but is not
bonds. It can only repay bonds if all as formal, and deals with a wide range
parties to a bond agree, or as directed of issues, including disputes arising
by VCAT or a court. from the Residential Tenancies Act.
rtba.vic.gov.au vcat.vic.gov.au
rtba@justice.vic.gov.au vcat-rt@vcat.vic.gov.au
Phone 1300 137 164 Phone 03 9628 9800
(local call charge) 1800 133 055
Locked Bag 007 (country callers)
Wendouree VIC 3355 Fax 03 9628 9822
55 King Street
Tenants Union of Victoria (TUV) Melbourne VIC 3000
The TUV provides information, advice
and advocacy services for Victorian Department of Health
tenants. and Human Services
tuv.org.au The Department of Health and Human
Services provides housing help to
Phone 03 9416 2577
eligible Victorians. The departments
Fax 03 9416 0513 housing website provides information
55 Johnston Street about housing in Victoria and includes
Fitzroy VIC 3065 a Housing Options Finder tool to help
people understand the services and
supports they might benefit from.
Real Estate Institute
of Victoria (REIV) housing.vic.gov.au
The REIV is the peak industry housing@dhs.vic.gov.au
association representing Victorian
Phone 1300 650 172
estate agents.
(local call charge,
reiv.com.au except mobile phones)
reiv@reiv.com.au TTY 13 36 77 then ask
for 1300 650 172
Phone 03 9205 6666
Fax 03 9205 6699 Speak and listen users
Phone 1300 555 727 then ask for
1300 650 172

46
Useful contacts

Housing for the Aged Action Victorian Public Tenants


Group (HAAG) Association (VPTA)
HAAG offers information, advocacy The VPTA is the peak body
and access to accommodation representing public housing tenants
services for older renters. in Victoria, advocating on their behalf
to improve and expand public housing
oldertenants.org.au
in Victoria.
haag@oldertenants.org.au
vpta.org.au
Phone 1300 765 178
admin@vpta.org.au
03 9654 7389
Phone 1800 015 510 (free call)
Fax 03 9654 3407
03 9481 4500
1st Floor Ross House
Fax 03 9481 4300
247251 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000 11 High Street
Northcote VIC 3070
Victorian Equal Opportunity PO Box 217
and Human Rights Commission Clifton Hill VIC 3068
(VEOHRC)
VEOHRC provides information Energy and Water Ombudsman
about equal opportunity rights and Victoria (EWOV)
responsibilities and helps people
If you are unable to resolve a problem
resolve complaints of discrimination
with your electricity, gas or water
or harassment through its free
company, EWOV can help. EWOVs
conciliation service.
services are free and independent.
humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au
ewov.com.au
information@veohrc.vic.gov.au
ewovinfo@ewov.com.au
Phone 1300 292 153
Phone 1800 500 509 (freecall)
Fax 1300 891 858
Fax 1800 500 549 (freefax)
TTY 1300 289 621
Reply paid 469
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Melbourne VIC 8060
Carlton VIC 3053

47
consumer.vic.gov.au
1300 55 81 81 (local call charge)

RentRight smartphone app:


consumer.vic.gov.au/rentright

Services from Consumer Affairs Victoria are also available


at Ballarat, Bendigo, Box Hill, Broadmeadows, Dandenong,
Geelong, Mildura, Morwell, Wangaratta and Warrnambool.
Our mobile service regularly visits rural communities.

May 2016

TIS
Translating and Interpreting Service 131 450

TTY
Textphone or modem users only, ring the
National Relay Service (NRS) on 133 677,
then quote 1300 55 81 81.
Callers who use Speech to Speech Relay
dial 1300 555 727, then quote 1300 55 81 81.